New York is among the biggest cities in the world. Public transport plays an indispensable role in every densely populated metropolis, and New York is no exception. It’s important to realize, however, that traveling via public transport in the Big Apple is not without its risks; as a public transportation accident lawyer, one sees firsthand just how dangerous the city’s transit system can be.
If a public transport agency breaches one or more of the special state rules that apply to them and you sustain an injury as a result, you should be entitled to compensation.
This is true for both local and interstate transportation, whether the provider is a public agency or a private company. The laws generally apply to everything from the New York City subway and ferry boats to bus lines and major interstate rail routes.
Injuries happen on New York’s public transit systems every single day. These range from mild cuts and bruises to permanently life-altering health issues. Regardless of how serious an accident is, though, if it comes about due to negligence on the part of a transport organization, another passenger, or some other entity, it should create grounds for compensation.
Unfortunately, claims involving “common carriers” (that is, public transportation units and the organizations that control them) often end up mired in red tape. The defendants might include governments, major corporations, insurance companies, and more. That makes litigation complicated. There are various legal provisions that can give government organizations immunity from lawsuits, and insurance companies are notorious for fighting legitimate claims by any available means.
You’ll need an experienced and aggressive law firm on your side to hold these tricky defendants accountable.
At Tucker Lawyers PC, we are proud of our record of advocacy for catastrophic injury victims in New York. We know how to approach these cases with truly effective strategies and compelling legal arguments that make a difference. You can count on our New York public transportation accident attorneys to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Common Public Transit Accidents
Virtually every mode of public transportation in New York City poses a risk of injury, including:
- The subway. Accidents can happen on trains themselves, as well as on platforms and tracks. According to a report from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), there were over 1,300 incidents of “track trespassing” in 2022, including cases involving assault, medical emergencies, lost objects, intoxication, and mental illness. These incidents resulted in 88 deaths.
- Buses, including tour buses and school buses. The New York community of Farmingdale was left in mourning in September when a school bus left the road and fell into a ravine, killing two people and causing serious injuries to five more.
- Ferries, including water taxis, boats, and other watercraft. Statistics from the first quarter of this year show that an average of more than 11,500 New York residents traveled by ferry every weekday, with the East River, Astoria, and Soundview routes being the most popular.
- Intercity trains.
- Airplanes. Statistically, the odds of getting into an aviation accident are very low if you’re flying with a commercial airline. According to Simple Flying, your odds of being in a fatal accident while flying in the U.S., Europe, or Australia is one in 11 million, compared to one in 5,000 when traveling by car. However, minor incidents (such as severe turbulence) can cause injuries.
- Helicopters. Helicopters are much riskier than airplanes in terms of the likelihood of serious accidents, as they do not have set flight patterns or the assistance of air traffic controllers.
- Taxicabs and ridesharing vehicles (cars driving for companies like Uber and Lyft).
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries From Public Transit Accidents
Injury can happen on public transport in a variety of ways, whether you’re in transit, waiting on a platform or in a station, walking up or down stairs, or stepping off a bus or train. Some of the injuries our public transit lawyers deal with most commonly include:
- Lost fingers, toes, hands, feet, and limbs. This can result from being caught in a door or falling under a bus or train, among other ways.
- Paralysis. Spinal damage is a common result of heavy impact involving a car, bus, or train. Paralysis can range from mild loss of motor function to full quadriplegia.
- Traumatic brain injury. Again, these commonly result from accidents involving collisions.
- Internal bleeding.
- Internal organ damage.
- Cardiac events, such as heart attacks.
- Severe pain and/or emotional distress.
- Long-term changes in vision, hearing, or other senses.
Suing Public Authorities
New York’s state government has sovereign immunity, as do other state governments. This means it’s impossible to sue a public authority (like a transportation agency) unless strict conditions are met. For example, you must file a notice of claim within a certain time frame, and there may also be a shorter time limit to file suit under the statute of limitations.
Ultimately, though, while lawsuits against public authorities can be more challenging, they remain the best means we have of pursuing justice in cases like these. Employees of government bodies are just as prone to negligent behavior as everyone else, so you shouldn’t be intimidated into giving up your right to fair compensation.
There are certain factors that may indicate negligence on the part of a transit authority. For example, if you can show that staff members on duty at the time of your accident had not undergone mandated safety training regularly enough during the period leading up to the incident, this will strengthen your case. Your New York personal injury attorney will know how to seek this type of evidence during the discovery process.
It’s also important to note that not every transit provider is a government-backed authority. If you’re injured while traveling with a private company, these restrictions won’t apply to you if you want to file a lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Cases Arising From Transit Accidents
Wrongful death, as defined under New York law, is a death caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person or entity. If someone close to you has died because of this type of negligence by a public transit authority, you have the right to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. The financial relief from a lawsuit like this can offset medical bills, funeral costs, and loss of income.
You should note that only children, spouses, and parents of the deceased can generally file wrongful death lawsuits in New York. Alternatively, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file suit as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do “Act of God” events affect public transportation accident lawsuits?
“Act of God” events (such as storms) may or may not lessen a public authority’s liability following an accident. It’s essential to consider whether the transportation entity took all reasonable precautions in light of the known risks. So, if a truly unexpected event, like a flash flood, leads to an accident, the public transportation entity may escape liability if it adheres to all standard safety protocols and due diligence requirements.
How do crowded conditions influence injury claims and compensation?
If you suffer an injury on an overcrowded bus or train, and the relevant transit authority failed to properly enforce applicable limits on passenger numbers, this may strengthen any claim you decide to make. Overcrowding is a chronic problem on New York’s transit systems, and a major contributor to accident risk.
Can you recover damages for emotional trauma after witnessing a New York public transportation accident?
Yes. However, lawsuits involving emotional trauma can be difficult to prove, so it’s essential to gather as much evidence as possible to support your case. This might include records of mental health assessment and treatment, evidence of your proximity to the accident (such as CCTV footage showing that you were near the site of the incident), and evidence of your inability to perform your daily tasks or professional duties as normal.
What if I was injured on New York public transit while on vacation?
New York laws apply equally to residents, non-residents, and tourists when it comes to seeking compensation for injuries sustained within the state. You’re entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of New York even if you live elsewhere. While there may be certain inconveniences associated with seeking compensation in this situation, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to pursue compensation for that reason.
How Our NYC Public Transportation Lawyers Can Help
New York City has the most extensive public transportation system in North America. It’s an indispensable resource for millions of the city’s commuters; sadly, though, accidents can happen, and the fallout from them can be disastrous. In many cases, these accidents come about because of negligence of one type or another.
Those who end up with catastrophic injuries because of negligent conduct never deserve the suffering they endure. If you’re in this position, you’re entitled to pursue justice as you see fit, including in the form of the largest possible financial recovery.
Contact Tucker Lawyers today for a free initial consultation about your case. You can reach us over the phone at (516) 399-2364 or via our online contact form.
Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.
John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]